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‘Daredevil’ DVD is worth the risk

Daredevil

Ben Affleck, Jennifer Garner

Fox, $30

Mark Steven Johnson, best known for his screenplay for the 1993 Jack Lemmon-Walter Matthau comedy “Grumpy Old Men,” wrote and directed this intermittently entertaining version of the popular Marvel Comic book hero Matt Murdock, who was blinded at age 12 but is able to “see” using his super-enhanced senses. An attorney working in New York’s Hell’s Kitchen by day, he battles crime at night as the masked and vengeful Daredevil. Affleck is OK as Murdock, but he’s nearly overshadowed by “Alias” star Garner as the high-kicking Elektra. Even if the film doesn’t exactly dazzle, you should enjoy the two-disc DVD which features a lengthy documentary on the difficulties of getting the project made. Among the other features: Garner’s screen test, six multi-angle scene studies, a documentary on the inspiring accomplishments of blind singer-actor Tom Sullivan, who was a consultant, a comprehensive documentary on the history of the “Daredevil” comic, an on-screen trivia track and commentary from Johnson and his producer Gary Foster.

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The Quiet American

Michael Caine, Brendan Fraser

Miramax, $30

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Caine, a two-time Oscar-winner, is one of cinema’s greatest treasures. And even at 70, his power as an actor hasn’t diminished, as his Academy Award-nominated turn in this exhilarating, adult drama based on Graham Greene’s novel indicates. Caine captures all the cynicism and world-weariness of his character, a British journalist working in Saigon during the early ‘50s, yet never loses sight of his character’s humanity and emotional core. Fraser, in a rare dramatic turn, gives the best performance to date as a seemingly innocent American.

The handsome DVD features an installment from the Sundance Channel’s “Anatomy of a Scene,” a passable “making of” featurette, a Vietnam timeline and original reviews for Greene’s book. Rounding out the disc is splendid commentary -- especially from Caine, who is very forthcoming about his acting technique -- director Phillip Noyce, Fraser, producers Sydney Pollack, Staffan Ahrenberg, William Hoberg and co-writer Christopher Hampton.

Solaris

George Clooney,

Natascha McElhone

Fox, $28

One wants to like “Solaris,” Steven Soderbergh’s remake of legendary Russian director Andre Tarkovsky’s classic 1972 sci-fi thriller. But what’s to like? “Solaris” is confusing, emotionally vague and moves at a snail’s pace. Clooney plays a psychologist mourning the death of his wife who is sent to investigate a space station that is orbiting a planet that has ceased communication with Earth. The equally mundane digital edition includes stills, two documentaries and rather arrogant commentary from Soderbergh and producer James Cameron.

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Spider

Ralph Fiennes, Miranda Richardson

Columbia TriStar, $25

The intense Fiennes continues to move between big-budget commercial projects and small, quirky independent films. Last year he was featured in the box office hits “Red Dragon” and “Maid in Manhattan,” as well as this shoestring budgeted psychological thriller.

Adapted by Patrick McGrath from his novel and directed by David Cronenberg, “Spider” finds Fiennes playing a deeply disturbed schizophrenic who is released from a mental institution only to return to his dreary childhood neighborhood where a violent, traumatic event from his childhood resurfaces.

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Also this week

Winnie-the-Pooh and his Hundred Acre gang are back teaching us life lessons in “Piglet’s Big Movie” (Disney: $29.99). “XX/XY”: Two women and a man, once involved in a relationship, reconnect a decade later (MGM: $26.98).

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Top VHS rentals

1. Phone Booth

2. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

3. Shanghai Knights

4. Basic

5. Gangs of New York

Top DVD rentals

1. Phone Booth

2. Shanghai Knights

3. Basic

4. How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days

5. Gangs of New York

What’s coming

Tuesday: “Bringing Down the House,” “Agent Cody Banks,” “What a Girl Wants” and “Irreversible”

Aug. 12: “The Hunted,” “Head of State,” “Cradle 2 the Grave,” “The House of 1000 Corpses,” “He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not” and “P.S. Your Cat Is Dead”


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